New Cyclist What is more Important Cadence or Target Power?

Hello, I’m a new cyclist riding outdoors. This is my first week using Trainer Road and I notice that I cant seem to maintain both an 80 to 95 cadence and power target. Which should I concentrate on more?



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+1 for power. Cadence will come around.

Yes, power.

Power - but also do Chad’s various cadence drills (quadrants, kick and pull, etc.) that are contained within various workouts (mostly the base phase ones?).


As others have said, focus on power. The text will tell you any time cadence is king. Just so you know, lots of new riders struggle with high cadence. Just keep working on it. It will come.

@Pbase @Cavasta @RoadMilitia82 @Brennus @donlee Thanks all, I really want this to work out and I find so enjoyable to get out and just ride and improve.


There are one or two workouts or drills where they specifically say cadence is more important than power. Otherwise, power is more important – and in many cases they remind you of this.

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Welcome! You’re hooked now - be prepared for an ever escalating wish list of bikes and places to ride!

What kind of riding are you doing? If you’re new to riding outside, I’d propose you focus on building your skills before worrying too much about power and training.

While the specific skills will vary depending if you’re on a mountain bike, gravel or road bike, it’s helps a lot to be comfortable on the bike, and know how to do an emergency stop, swerve quickly, keep your balance when at slow speed, look over your shoulder while riding in a straight line, do a small bunny hop, etc. All this will help keep you safe while riding - which is something that’s important to learn quickly.

You can also experiment with different riding styles - high vs low cadence, in vs out of saddle, drops vs. hoods, etc and see how things feel. The in-workout text, and ride instructions will also make more sense after a few miles under your belt.

Welcome as somebody who also did struggle with cadence I found that if picked the right gear I could hit the power numbers I used to try a turn the smallest cog I could at the back but after I got a PM I found that by using a easier gear I could spin more and create more power and this increased my cadence. The other thing which help me was to join the local cycling group which help a ton - thanks wild bikes

I used to cycle at 80 rpm and crunch the gears. Overtime I can do 90 rpm easily, in fact unless I am on the flat I change gear to spin at over 90 rpm.

My last session was Dade +1. That wants you to spin at over 100 rpm. I could do that. When the off section came I would slow to 90 rpm only to find I would naturally go back to 95 rpm.

The cadence will come.

Look at it like this.

There is a segment on the screen dedicated to reporting your power.

There isnt one for cadence

Yep - cadence will improve - ideally to the range of 85-100rpm. I find my turbo cadence (95-110) is higher than my road cadence (93-100). Doesn’t really matter provided your not grinding your patella into the dust at less than 80rpm for a regular amount of time. I do agree with the VO2 max comments though - you need to really floor it just as the interval starts and get the cadence up to 110-120rpm as these are supposed to tax your oxygen uptake not your muscles…I know when the man with the hammer is about to hit me when my VO2 max rpm drops below 110! (usually the arse end of 3 min intervals @120%!) :face_vomiting:


Seriously most important to work on form and control on the bike. In my humble opinion. Get your position and form correct, then your power and cadence will follow. Stick to the in ride instructions. Coach Chad will get your there! Best success :muscle:t3:

Indeed, and be prepared for an ever escalating challenge too! It’s amazing how far you can get if you just keep working at it.

When I started I focused on power first (outside).

With hindsight I think trying to follow Coach Chad’s recommendation as long as you can do so without losing the power target is well worth the trouble. It feels hard at first, but it’s amazing how fast you get used to it. You’ll see marked improvements month over month if you keep chipping at it consistently.

I think you might as well start creating good habits from the get go, easier than to unlearn bad ones…

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@DaveWh I’m just getting started really. Last year I stopped running outdoors as it hurt my knees too much. I bought a bike from Walmart and just didn’t enjoy it. During my last deployment I worked out with a guy who said go get fitted and try again. I did, got fitted on KHS Ultrasport 3.0 flatbar and it made a world difference. The riding style I’m just working on but I do know that I would like to go something like a Trek Domane SL5. I live in northwest Florida and get decent weather this time of year to ride. What would you suggest for me to use to develop riding skills like you mentioned. Interesting that in all of my reading so far very little has been stressed about riding skills other than learning to unclip properly and timely. Had my first fall at a stop to reset my garmin edge. Lesson learned…lol I’ve invested in a set of Favero Assioma Duo Pedal based power meters. I’m also trying to find reasonable and measurable goals to set for this year. Thanks again for the information you have provided so far.

I have a Domane and love it. The endurance geometry suits me (more upright) and I can fit 35/37mm tires rear/front so I can ride on gravel.

The best way to learn skills on a bike is to - not surprisingly - practice them. Best place to do this is in a safe environment eg on gravel trails, or bike path with not much other bike traffic.

If you can find some smooth dirt trails, it also helps to ride these - even if you’ll be doing most of your riding on the road. I have a mountain biking background, and found that when I started riding on the road, the bike handling skills transferred over pretty much instantaneously, and I was very comfortable on the road - even on “technical” descents - 40+ mph on smooth twisty blacktop is a piece of cake when you’re used to singletrack mountain bike descents.

If you plan on riding in a group on the road, that involves another set of skills. So worth finding a group that is friendly to new riders.

GCN is a great resource to learn about all things cycling. Here’s an example video. Worth searching through their archives for more skills videos.

In terms of setting goals - pick things that will motivate you to get out and ride whether that’s a power target to hit, or completing a big ride (eg sign up for a local 100 miler) - whatever will motivate you to get out on the bike.

As you do more rides, you can look at the power data after the fact, and you’ll start to get a better sense of correlating power to different kinds of rides/pacing. You can use that to inform more specific power/duration targets.

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If you’re a new cyclist, you don’t have any developed habits yet. So move the pedals faster so you don’t have to do a more difficult correction later on.

As I understand things, assuming you are able to maintain good cadence (85rpm or better), power will be the principal metric for effective structured training.

Regardless of how you produce it, power is power, and the more you output the faster (?) you will go.

Power = force x cadence

So this equation tells us there are 2 ways to create more power and using a series of plans you will develop both:

  1. You can push the pedals harder (increase force)
  2. You can spin the cranks faster (increase cadence)

There are different situations to prioritize one over the other, but your goal is to improve both.

If you are having trouble maintaining 80+rpm, try using one easier gear as this changes the effective torque on the gears and should let you spin more quickly. If you can not maintain good cadence to hit the interval power, I suggest lowering your FTP 5-10 watts. It is Important to develop higher cadence for overall performance.

My personal development in MTB performance is largely due to increased power from higher, controlled nominal and peak cadence. (Not from doing squats in the gym).

You can read more here:

Torque Talk:

Cadence and Winners:


@DaveWh Thanks I will have a look and thanks for indulging a new guy. @Tim_P @Juarez Thanks for the added information!

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